Review – Leviathan Wilds

Cooperative Shadow of the Colossus

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Designer Justin Kemppainen

Artist Samuel R. Shimota

Publisher Moon Crab Games

Category Cooperative Card Game

Length 45-75 minutes

Release Date 2024

Player Count 1-4

Leviathan Wilds is the first game from publisher Moon Crab Games, a publisher made up of former Fantasy Flight Games and Z-Man Games employees. In Leviathan Wilds, 1-4 players will form a deck based on a character and a class, then shuffle them together. Play consists of using cards for Action Points or abilities as you navigate around the various leviathans that you’re trying to free from binding crystals, represented by dice. Players will have to manage their deck carefully however, because if their draw deck (known in-game as your Grip) is ever empty, you lose your grip and fall. So is it a colossal amount of fun, or just a shadow of other card games? Read on for the review!

Review

It’s great getting a retail version of Leviathan Wilds after doing the preview about a year and a half ago, and it’s amazing getting to see all the improvements as well as the things that stayed the same or similar to that preview. Instead of 5 leviathans in the preview the final game has 17, each with unique art and challenges to overcome from the web-filled Weaver to the swarms at the Hive. The biggest change is one of my favorite things – recessed player boards. Your health, blight, and AP cards all have slots that they can sit in and won’t get ruined if someone brushes against them or gently bumps the table. If you’ve got an Anne Wheaton with you, you’re on your own. 

Setup is simple, since all of the leviathans reside in one spiral-bound book that you lay flat after choosing which one to tackle. Take out the story and threat cards, place the dice and mushroom tokens, and all you have left to do is set up your character. Choose a character and a class, then shuffle them together; place your health and blight cubes, and draw your opening 3 cards. That’s it! A round is made up of 4 parts: Reveal Threat, Activate Climber, Resolve Threat, and Draw to 3. The Threat card is revealed first so players have time to react and move in case they are able to dodge out of the way. 

When you Activate your climber, cards can be used one of two ways. One of your cards needs to be selected for its Action Points, shown by the number in the top corner. Actions include Climb, Jump, Glide, Strike, Rest, and Mend (Heal). Your other cards can be played during your turn (or sometimes someone else’s) to take advantage of the skill at the bottom. These skills can vary from letting you block damage, jump across chasms, or allowing other players to take extra actions. Players’ decks will all be around 10 cards, so keep an eye on your Grip. Should players ever need to draw a card but can’t, they lose their grip and fall to a ledge or the ground. You don’t take falling damage per se in Leviathan Wilds, but you will still take damage from any effects your character falls through, which could cause them to lose cards, health, or other effects. 

Resolving the threat means seeing if anyone takes damage, or if the attack misses, seeing if that triggers any other effects. As the game goes on, players will start to have to put more and more threat cards in their enraged state, making them more powerful and dangerous. The longer you take to complete your task, the more difficult it becomes! Then you Draw back to 3 if you want to – sometimes it’s wise to not fill your hand if it would cause you to lose your grip and fall. And then the next climber starts back with Reveal Threat again. 

So players will move around on the Leviathan like its co-op Shadow of the Colossus, trying to remove crystals by striking them and not falling to the ground or taking too much damage or blight. Blight (represented by the turquoise dice) is a dangerous corruption that is hard to cure, so players should either spread out who takes care of blighted crystals, or make sure to use an action card that protects them when attacking those dice. Should any player’s health and blight markers cross over, that player is defeated and the remaining climbers get a Last Chance turn to finish the game, or everyone loses. 

Leviathan Wilds is a strong first showing for Moon Crab Games, and it has a lot to offer for anyone interested. Cooperative, hand management, and easy setup make it an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a mid-weight game. I had high hopes back when I did the Preview, and I’m happy to say that they’ve been exceeded by what’s here. Anyone looking for a new co-op game should check out Leviathan Wilds

A review copy was provided by the publisher.  

The Bottom Line

Anyone looking for a new co-op game should check out Leviathan Wilds.

 

9

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Author: Andrew Borck

Christian/Husband/Dad/Gamer/Writer/Master Builder. Jesus saves and Han shot first.